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The Seal of the Prophethood

There were many signs as the prophet Muhammad was growing up and entering manhood that he was an extraordinary person. He was well known among the Quraish as a trustworthy and honest person. He was an eloquent speaker and a sound judge. But there was something more, something special, about him that was witnessed by many of those around him.

When Amina was pregnant with the baby Muhammad she was aware of a light within her, shining so intensely that she could see great distances. Shortly before the baby was born she heard a voice telling her that her child would be the leader of the people and that she should name him Muhammad , the praised one. She was not surprised when Haleema, the child’s foster mother, related the following strange happening.

Muhammad and the son of Haleema had been out in the fields with the sheep when two men dressed in white took Muhammad and laid him down and opened his breast. Haleema’s son ran back to tell his parents what was happening. When Haleema and her husband ran to him they found him very pale but standing. They could see no trace of the men, nor was there any sign of a wound on the boy, but neither boy would change a word of his story. The only mark on the boy’s body was a small mark on his back between his shoulders. But that had been there since his birth. Later in his life the prophet described the event more fully. He said that the two men in white carried with them a gold basin of snow. They opened his chest and removed his heart. They also opened his heart and removed a black clot. Then they cleansed his heart and his breast with the snow.

When Muhammad was six years old his mother died. He was then cared for by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, who died only two years after becoming Muhammad’s guardian. After his grandfather’s death, Muhammad was taken into the household of his father’s brother, Abu Talib. Abu Talib would sometimes take Muhammad with him on his travels with merchant caravans. On one such journey they stopped at a place named Bostra, on the way to Syria.

At Bostra there lived a Christian monk named Bahira. He lived there in solitude, studying old books and manuscripts which had been passed down to him from generations of monks who had lived there before him, all of whom were scholars of the scriptures. Among the books was one which predicted the coming of a prophet among the Arabs. Bahira believed that the prophet would come in his lifetime.

As the caravan from Makkah came to a halt near the monk’s abode, he noticed something very strange. A small cloud seemed to move slowly above the heads of a couple of the travelers, shielding them from the heat of the sun. When they took shelter beneath a tree, the cloud came to rest above them, and the branches of the tree itself were lowered over them to provide additional shade. Bahira was intrigued, and prepared a dinner for the entire caravan. It was no ordinary person who had caused the strange happenings which Bahira had witnessed. Perhaps the expected prophet was with the caravan.

When his guests arrived for dinner, he saw nothing unusual about any of them, so he asked if everyone had come. Sure enough, the youngest member of the caravan, Muhammad , had been left at the camp. At the monk’s request, Muhammad was summoned. Bahira knew at once from the boy’s face that this was the person for whom the shade had been provided. He asked the boy many questions, all of which were answered to his satisfaction. Finally the monk asked if he might see his back. There, between the shoulders, was the mark Bahira had expected to see, just as it had been described in his book.

Bahira advised Abu Talib to take his nephew back to Makkah. He warned him to keep the boy away from the Jews, for if they saw in him what Bahira had seen, they would try to harm him. He predicted that great things were in store for the son of Abu Talib’s brother. Between the shoulders of Muhammad , Bahira had seen what he knew was the seal of prophethood.


Published: May 1993

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Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756